In Store Experience Key to Competing with Online Giants – Retail PR Agency

Kiwi businesses should look beyond technology to compete with e-commerce giants such as Amazon before entering a price war according to a local retail PR consultant.

Fleur Revell director of Impact PR, which consults to big-box retailers around NZ says while the natural tendency of businesses faced with growing competition from e-commerce is to look to technology for a head-on solution and compete on price, retailers need to first look at improving their in store experience rather than commoditising it.

Revell says that the recent launch Amazon’s Australian distribution centre showed that there is an opportunity for Kiwi retailers to compete through superior customer service.

“The reality is that competing with large online retailers solely on price will become immediately unsustainable for many Kiwi businesses,” she says.

“Retailers should understand a big part of their competitive advantage is their in-store experience. The online presence can be designed to complement their physical stores – not replace them.

“While it costs substantially more to run a brick and mortar store if you can’t interact with the customer on a personal level the ability to develop a relationship is severely inhibited,” she says.

“Many customers are seeking out a sensory experience in store, rather than a transactional encounter, where they’re simply filling the cupboards,”she says.

Revell says maintaining a high level of service requires a significant investment in staff and training.

She says that online presence can be designed to help drive customers back into the store rather than to substitute for it and that by encouraging their customers online, retailers expose themselves to more competition on price.

“People are inherently tactile shoppers and online shopping inhibits this making it harder to influence customer perceptions.

“In store, retailers can look to engage customers through a range of sensory experiences – the traditional five senses of vision, gustation (taste), audition (hearing) olfactory (smell), tactician (touch) but there are others that can be influenced as well such as thermoception which is our sense of temperature and even interoception of which our sense of hunger is part of.

“Within an online shopping environment – the experience is far more one dimensional which makes it much harder for customers to develop an emotional connection with the retailer,” she says.

Mark Devlin

Mark Devlin

Director at Impact PR
Mark Devlin is a dynamic Auckland entrepreneur who provides PR counsel for some of the world’s most recognisable brands. With more than 20 years in public relations and marketing, Mark has an impressive portfolio of clients who trust him with their brands.